As we grow, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.
Remember, life is kind of like a party. You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some show up really late. But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clean up the mess. And most of the time, they aren’t even the ones who made the mess. These people are your real friends in life. They are the ones who matter most.
Here are 15 things real friends do differently:
- They face problems together. – A person who truly knows and loves you – a real friend – is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else still believes the smile on your face. Don’t look for someone who will solve all your problems; look for someone who will face them with you.
- They give what they can because they truly care. – One of the biggest challenges in relationships comes from the fact that many of us enter a relationship in order to get something. We try to find someone who’s going to make us feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last, and give us joy in the long-term, is if we see our relationship as a place we go to give, and not just a place we go to take. Yes, of course it is okay to take something from a relationship too. But both sides should be giving. It can only be a ‘give and take’ if BOTH SIDES are GIVING. That’s the key.
- They make time for each other. – It’s obvious, but any relationship without any face time is going to have problems. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot in someone’s life. Never force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they truly care about you, they will create one for you. (Read The How of Happiness.)
- They offer each other freedom. – A healthy relationship keeps the doors and windows wide open. Plenty of air is circulating and no one feelstrapped. Relationships thrive in this environment. Keep your doors and windows open. If this person is meant to be in your life, all the open doors and windows in the world won’t make them leave.
- They communicate effectively. – It’s been said many times before, but it’s true: great communication is the cornerstone of a great relationship. If you have resentment, you must talk it out rather than let the resentment grow. If you are jealous, you must communicate in an open and honest manner to address your insecurities. If you have expectations of your partner, you must communicate them. If there are any problems whatsoever, you must communicate them and work them out. And communicate more than just problems – communicate the good things too.
- They accept each other as is. – Trying to change a person never works. People know when they are not accepted in their entirety, and it hurts. A real friend is someone who truly knows you, and loves you just the same. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you. If you feel like changing something about your friend, ask yourself what change you can make in yourself instead.
- They are genuine, and expect genuineness. – As Leo F. Buscaglia once said, “Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyze your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” Don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts. Remember, love and friendship don’t hurt. Lying, cheating and screwing with people’s feelings and emotions hurts. Always be open, honest, and genuine. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- They compromise. – Real friends meet in the middle. When there’s a disagreement, they work out a solution that works for both parties – a compromise, rather than a need for the other person to change or completely give in.
- They support each other’s growth changes. – Our needs change with time. When someone says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it just means you grown. Don’t apologize for it. Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.
- They believe in each other. – Simply believing in another person, and showing it in your words and deeds, can make a huge difference in their life. Studies of people who grew up in dysfunctional homes but who grew up to be happy and successful show that the one thing they had in common was someone who believed in them. Do this for those you care about. Support their dreams and passions and hobbies. Participate with them. Cheer for them. Be nothing but encouraging. Whether they actually accomplish these dreams or not, your belief is of infinite importance to them.
- They maintain realistic expectations of their relationship. – No one is happy all the time. Friends must keep realistic expectations of each other. Notice when you’re projecting something onto the other person that has nothing to do with them, like a fear from a past relationship, and then make an effort to let it go. Recognize when you’re looking for that person to do something for you that you need to do for yourself, like making you feel lovable or take care of your needs, and then release those expectations and do it for yourself.
- They honor each other in small ways on a regular basis. – Honor your important relationships in some way every chance you get. Every day you have the opportunity to make your relationship sweeter and deeper by making small gestures to show your appreciation and affection. Remember, making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. Your kindness and gratitude matters. Make an effort to really listen – not just wait to talk. See the other person as if for the first time. It’s all too easy to take someone for granted. Really notice all the wonderful things they do, and let them know what you see.
- They listen, and they hear every word. – Giving a person a voice, and showing them that their words matter, will have a long-lasting impact on them. Less advice is often the best advice. People don’t need lots of advice, they need a listening ear and some positive reinforcement. What they want to know is often already somewhere inside of them. They just need time to think, be and breathe, and continue to explore the undirected journeys that will eventually help them find their direction.
- They keep their promises. – Your word means everything. If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT! If you say you’re going to be somewhere, BE THERE! If you say you feel something, MEAN IT! If you can’t, won’t, and don’t, then DON’T LIE. Real friends keep promises and tell the truth upfront. (Read The Four Agreements.)
- They stick around. – The sad truth is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need. When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave. The good news is, if you tough it out, you’ll eventually weed these people out of your life and be left with some great people you can count on. We rarely lose friends and lovers, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.